They are known as consumers of the 21st century and use all the tools available to them to make the best purchasing decisions. New technologies and knowledge are their greatest allies in saving money. They also take into account respect for the environment and other social concerns.

There has probably been a time when you bought something and, after a while, were surprised to find that the same product or service was available somewhere else at a lower price or with better conditions You get the feeling that you made a mistake and lost money as a result. One way to prevent such situations from happening and affecting your personal finances is to become a smart shopper.

The definition of smart shopper is very simple. As its name implies, a smart shopper is someone who makes purchases in a smart way, gathering as much information as possible to take the best decision on the product or service they wish to acquire. Due to digitalization and the growth of e-commerce, this concept is usually associated with purchases made online, but it can also be linked to more traditional ways of shopping, such as at physical stores.

How to be a smart shopper

A variety of items and services are advertised through the media, social networks, bus stations, shop windows, etc., so the temptation to buy can be relentless. In addition, many people also have access to a smartphone or computer and so can shop online at any time. Therefore, before clicking on the payment button, using your credit card or even paying in cash, it is advisable to take into account the five strategies that will help you become a smart shopper.

  • Ask yourself if you need it. This first point is vital, as the smart shopper is characterized by having self-control and clear reasons for making purchases. Having already gathered information, a smart shopper is well aware of the characteristics, necessity and usefulness of the product, so they are less likely to fall prey to impulses or so-called financial biases.

  • Always compare prices. It is now very easy to compare the price of the same product in different stores thanks to the Internet. You can visit several websites or use a digital price comparison tool. You should also keep in mind the usual price of what you want to buy in order to compare it to its price during the sales or on days such as Black Friday.

  • Take advantage of points or rewards. A smart shopper looks for the best possible deals, without compromising quality, so using brand loyalty programmes is good for obtaining a better price or conditions. These are usually recurring purchases of certain brands or at specific stores that are converted into points and which can be redeemed for discounts, products, gifts, etc. It is also possible to earn rewards by paying through a specific method or by using a promotional code, for example.

  • Look at the reviews. Checking the reviews of the products you are interested in buying is a good starting point to identify whether or not they meet your expectations. A description of the product’s condition, the customer service rating, incidents or faults, among other information provided by other customers, can usually be found on the manufacturer’s or seller’s website and are worth considering before making a purchase.

  • Make purchases securely. Last but not least, it is important to make payments or transactions following cybersecurity recommendations. As we have already mentioned, smart shoppers stay informed and have the necessary knowledge to avoid, in most cases, falling victim to scams or fraud that put their bank and personal data or money at risk. Checking that the website you are browsing includes the “https” protocol and that the address bar has a padlock icon, choosing secure passwords or avoiding opening and interacting in suspicious emails are just some of the many tips to keep you safe.

Responsible consumption criteria

One of the characteristics of a smart shopper is their concern regarding their own consumer habits. In addition to looking for quality and to save money when making purchases, smart shoppers also take environmental sustainability into consideration. For example, when buying an electronic device, smart shoppers tend to check the second-hand market or market for reconditioned products, where they can find the items they need at a lower price, while contributing to the preservation of natural resources. If you are interested in learning more about this alternative, check out these ten tips to consider when making second-hand online purchases in Finanzas para Mortales (Finance for mortals).

Smart shoppers also tend to take care of their financial health: they know how to manage their capital, minimizing risks such as over-indebtedness which is the result of overbuying, as well as planning any purchases made in advance, perhaps by preparing a budget.

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